Sunday, May 26, 2024

Whitney Webb: Bitcoin And The Plot To Destroy Monetary Privateness

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This text is featured in Bitcoin Journal’s “The Withdrawal Concern”. Click on right here to subscribe now.

A PDF pamphlet of this text is accessible for obtain. 

Late final month, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators launched the Monetary Expertise Safety Act, which might “create a working group tasked with finding out how terrorists or different criminals would possibly use cryptocurrencies and different new monetary applied sciences, and create proposals for Congress and regulatory companies aimed toward countering these makes use of”. This working group “can be composed of representatives from the U.S. Treasury Division, Monetary Crimes Enforcement Community (FinCEN), the Inner Income Providers (IRS), the Workplace of International Asset Management (OFAC), the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Company, the Division of Homeland Safety, the Division of Justice, the Division of State and the CIA”.

Bitcoiners ought to pay shut consideration to those developments because the DOJ particularly has tried to color bitcoin because the cost of alternative for well-known terror teams like ISIS and al-Qaida, signaling that the working group proposed by this invoice will doubtless search to particularly goal bitcoin. Including to this concern is the truth that a slew of current mainstream media studies — which cite Treasury and FinCEN officers, DOJ officers and CIA analysts — have claimed particularly that “terrorists are turning to bitcoin, and so they’re studying quick”, that bitcoin is the “new frontier in terror financing”, and that “bitcoin helps terrorists secretly fund their lethal assaults”. Even the outstanding army suppose tank RAND Company has argued that “bitcoin and the darkish internet” are the most recent terrorist risk.

Many of those identical entities, significantly the U.S. Division of Justice, are additionally presently serving to to draft the UN’s new cybercrime treaty, exhibiting that there’s presently a really international effort to stomp out “cybercrime” and alleged funding sources for “cybercriminals”. Nonetheless, very similar to the phrases “terror” and “terrorist” after 9/11, the phrases “cybercrime” and “cybercriminals” are sometimes vaguely outlined by these identical authorities.

Maybe unsurprisingly, lots of the teams trying to allegedly fight cybercrime within the U.S. and past, together with the Division of Justice and the FBI, are a part of a world public-private partnership housed throughout the World Financial Discussion board that’s searching for to outline these phrases in unsettling methods. Not solely that, however this group and its associate organizations are additionally searching for coverage targets that — if extensively carried out — would deal with nameless cryptocurrency transactions, and particularly Bitcoin transactions involving mixers and associated privateness instruments, as prison. Additionally they assert, with out proof, that there’s a direct hyperlink between a rise within the worth of cryptocurrencies, particularly of bitcoin, and cybercriminal exercise.

This public-private partnership — the WEF Partnership In opposition to Cybercrime or WEF-PAC — is run by a former intelligence agent named Tal Goldstein, whose army intelligence profession was marked by his efforts to have intelligence companies basically fuse with non-public expertise firms in his native Israel. Right this moment, WEF-PAC’s members not solely embody the FBI, the Division of Justice, and intelligence companies of Israel and Britain, in addition they embody huge too-big-to-fail banks like Financial institution of America and Santander in addition to huge tech firms like Amazon and Microsoft. Even the nonprofit that manages the SWIFT cost system is a member.

In current studies, WEF-PAC has alleged that there’s a connection between the usage of cryptocurrencies in addition to privacy-enhancing instruments equivalent to mixers and the incidence of cybercrime. They go on to argue that, “Cybercriminals abuse encryption, cryptocurrencies, anonymity providers and different applied sciences”, although their use is hardly unique to criminals. Although they chorus from naming any forex particularly, the WEF has acknowledged elsewhere on its web site that, “Governments don’t like the truth that bitcoin customers are nameless, and so they have considerations over its use for prison exercise and cash laundering”, including that “their worries aren’t unfounded”.

It’s necessary to level out that WEF-PAC doesn’t see cybercriminals simply as those that have interaction in hacks or financially motivated acts like ransomware assaults. To WEF-PAC “cybercriminals” additionally embody those that use these applied sciences to “uphold terrorism” and “unfold disinformation to destabilize governments and democracies”. From that, evidently WEF-PAC’s inclusion of “disinformation” as a sort of cybercrime betrays an intention to develop insurance policies that, below the guise of “combatting cybercrime”, will even promote elevated on-line censorship.

In discussing “options”, WEF-PAC requires the worldwide concentrating on of “infrastructures and property” deemed to facilitate cybercrime, together with people who allow “cybercriminal… income streams”, which — as we are going to see shortly —– refers back to the infrastructure that permits for extra non-public cryptocurrency transactions, and permits “the promotion of unlawful websites and the internet hosting of prison content material”. In one other part, the group discusses seizing the web sites of “cybercriminals” as a beautiful risk. Provided that WEF-PAC and its members, just like the FBI, view on-line “disinformation” as a type of cybercrime, this might doubtlessly see impartial media web sites and the infrastructure that permits them to function and finance their work (i.e., video sharing platforms that don’t censor, and so forth.) emerge as targets. Earlier this month, the FBI, in coordination with the Nationwide Police of Ukraine, did simply this, seizing 9 crypto exchanges, nearly all of which had bitcoin or btc within the area identify. Their crime? Providing “nameless cryptocurrency alternate providers to web site guests”.

WEF-PAC additional argues that “so as to scale back the worldwide affect of cybercrime and to systematically restrain cybercriminals, cybercrime should be confronted at its supply by elevating the price of conducting cybercrimes, reducing the actions’ profitability and deterring criminals by rising the direct threat they face”. It then argues, unsurprisingly, that as a result of the cybercrime risk is international in scope, its “resolution should even be a globally coordinated effort”. They are saying that the principle solution to obtain this entails “harnessing the non-public sector to work aspect by aspect with legislation enforcement officers”. Shockingly, WEF-PAC requires this “cooperation” to happen even whether it is “not at all times aligned with present legislative and operational frameworks”. In different phrases, they’re saying this cooperation ought to be allowed to happen even whether it is unlawful.

So how precisely do the members of WEF-PAC plan on confronting cybercrime “at its supply by elevating the price of conducting cybercrimes, reducing the actions’ profitability and deterring criminals by rising the direct threat they face”? Whereas they’re tight-lipped on the precise measures, one other group carefully aligned with the WEF, and with appreciable overlap with WEF-PAC, has some concepts.

The Monetary Providers Info Sharing and Evaluation Middle, or FS-ISAC, formally exists to “assist make sure the resilience and continuity of the worldwide monetary providers infrastructure and particular person corporations towards acts that might considerably affect the sector’s potential to offer providers vital to the orderly operate of the worldwide financial system”. In different phrases, FS-ISAC permits the non-public monetary providers trade to determine on and coordinate sector-wide responses relating to how monetary providers are supplied throughout and after a given disaster, together with a cyber assault or sector-wide concern over cybercrime, like previous WEF warnings of a coming cyber “pandemic”. Tellingly, FS-ISAC was created in 1999, the identical yr that the Glass-Steagall Act was repealed.

FS-ISAC’s members embody the largest corporations on Wall Road — Citigroup, Financial institution of America, Wells Fargo, and Morgan Stanley are amongst its members — and far of FS-ISAC’s management contributes to, works for, or chairs committees and initiatives of the World Financial Discussion board, together with these centered on cybercrime and ransomware. In 2021, FS-ISAC’s International Intelligence Workplace launched a number of “predictions for 2021 and past”. Most of those predictions specific concern a few coming cyber calamity, although one prediction particularly stands out: The “financial drivers in the direction of cybercrime will improve”. FS-ISAC claims that the present financial scenario created by COVID-related lockdowns will “make cybercrime an ever extra enticing different”, instantly afterwards stating that “dramatic will increase in cryptocurrency valuation might drive risk actors to conduct campaigns capitalising on this market, together with extortion campaigns towards monetary establishments and their prospects”.

In different phrases, FS-ISAC views the rise within the worth of cryptocurrency as a direct driver of cybercrime, significantly for ransomware incidents, implying that the worth of cryptocurrency should be handled if there’s to be a discount in cybercrime and if cybercrime is just too be confronted at its supply by attacking its “profitability”, as WEF-PAC suggests. Nonetheless, the info doesn’t match these assertions as the usage of cryptocurrency by cybercriminals is low and getting decrease. As an example, one current examine — satirically produced by WEF-PAC member Chainalysis — discovered that solely 0.34% of cryptocurrency transactions in 2020 have been tied to prison exercise, down from 2% the yr prior. Although the lower could also be on account of a leap in cryptocurrency adoption, the general share of crime-linked crypto transactions is extremely low, a reality clearly recognized to FS-ISAC and its members.

What’s disturbing right here is that mainstream media has extensively circulated the declare that Bitcoin particularly is, to cite Forbes, “driving the $1.4 billion ransomware trade”. Or NPR, “bitcoin has fueled ransomware assaults”. Or an govt at WEF-PAC member Chainalysis, bitcoin is the “favourite by far” for ransomware attackers. I may give many extra examples as there’s actually an abundance of studies identical to these that blame a leap in well-publicized cybercrime occasions — particularly ransomware assaults — on bitcoin’s elevated reputation and bitcoin’s intrinsic worth.

But, right here, if the banks, intelligence companies, and tech firms that partnered with these initiatives see, not simply monetary privateness, however the worth of bitcoin itself as a risk, it goes with out saying that their efforts to cease cybercrime at “its supply” wouldn’t simply contain eradicating monetary privateness with regards to crypto, however devaluing crypto. With such teams overtly discussing working outdoors of “authorized frameworks” to perform their objectives, Bitcoiners should begin paying nearer consideration to those shadowy teams.

There isn’t any proof that cryptocurrency, or extra particularly bitcoin, is the important thing driver of cybercrime, as cybercrime considerably predates the existence of each bitcoin and crypto. Nonetheless, cryptocurrency does current a risk to the plans of FS-ISAC members and their companions to start producing digital currencies managed both by authorized industrial banks or central banks themselves, digital currencies which can be designed to be simply surveilled. Central financial institution digital currencies particularly are being designed and carried out to erode monetary privateness and autonomy. The success of CBDCs and associated initiatives is dependent upon neutering the competitors, which is probably going why FS-ISAC has referred to as for the financial drivers of cybercrime to be combatted by “a world fin-cyber utility”, which is in fact the exact same globalist entity that WEF-PAC seeks to create.

Not lengthy earlier than FS-ISAC and WEF-PAC made these claims, many members of each teams participated in a 2020 initiative hosted by the Carnegie Endowment, itself a member of WEF-PAC. The president of the Endowment on the time was William Burns, who subsequently grew to become Joe Biden’s choose for CIA director lower than a yr later. The Carnegie Endowment’s initiative introduced collectively many members of WEF-PAC and FS-ISAC with an necessary addition — representatives of central banks, specifically the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Financial institution. Additionally notably current on this initiative was the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance coverage Company (FDIC).

The report developed by these events is astounding because it states that the principle trigger of worldwide monetary instability will not be irresponsible central financial institution insurance policies or industrial banks participating in prison habits, however as an alternative “the present fragmentation amongst stakeholders and initiatives”. They argue that the principle resolution wanted to “stabilize” the worldwide monetary system lies in lowering that “fragmentation”. The one solution to accomplish that, they are saying, requires a large reorganization of all “stakeholders” through elevated international coordination and particularly notes that the “disconnect between the finance, the nationwide safety and the diplomatic communities is especially pronounced” and requires a lot nearer interplay between the three. It goes on to state:

“This requires international locations not solely to higher arrange themselves domestically but in addition to strengthen worldwide cooperation to defend towards, examine, prosecute and ideally forestall future assaults. This means that the monetary sector and monetary authorities should often work together with legislation enforcement and different nationwide safety companies in unprecedented methods, each domestically and internationally.”

Basically, this initiative has referred to as for fusing industrial banks and monetary authorities (i.e., regulators) with nationwide safety and legislation enforcement companies. This coverage couldn’t be extra dystopian. Making issues even worse is the truth that WEF-PAC, of which the Carnegie Endowment and lots of the different organizations behind this coverage are members, not solely name for this identical fusion to happen but in addition to take action in methods that could be unlawful.

A merging of economic banks, their regulators and the intelligence companies is an entire nightmare situation, however that is precisely what the World Financial Discussion board has come to advertise as a mannequin for “public-private partnership”. However, maybe extra critically for Americans, this can be a coverage developed with the direct participation of the Federal Reserve, the FDIC, the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, the Division of Justice, and the nation’s most “systemically necessary” industrial banks. The “institution” on this nation helps these insurance policies and, from what I can see, they’ve each intention of making an attempt to make them a actuality.

These American federal companies, establishments, and industrial banks are taking part in a serious function in creating laws that can inevitably goal bitcoin. They’ve made it very clear in these coverage paperwork, incubated by teams just like the WEF, that they see monetary privateness, the recognition of bitcoin and the worth of bitcoin as direct threats chargeable for what they outline as “cybercrime”.

But, time and time once more, the American individuals have been fleeced and looted by many of those identical companies and plenty of of those identical industrial banks. The large banks like HSBC can launder tens of millions of {dollars} for drug cartels and nothing occurs to them; nobody goes to jail. The CIA has laundered untold tens of millions via prison banks like BCCI, a financial institution which additionally ran its personal intercourse trafficking operation involving prepubescent children, and once more nothing was carried out and nobody went to jail. FTX can launder help cash supposedly destined for Ukraine after which funnel it again as marketing campaign contributions to the identical political social gathering creating crypto laws, whereas portray bitcoin as a “nationwide safety risk”. Sam Bankman-Fried was the one individual arrested and proper now, he’s not in jail; he’s sitting in a multimillion-dollar mansion in California about to get 10 of the 13 prices towards him dismissed. The present president’s son can launder as a lot cash as he needs after leaving the proof on a laptop computer he deserted and nonetheless the intelligence group involves his protection, falsely claiming the info on this laptop computer — now admitted to be his — was a “Russian hoax”. These guys are the actual criminals and in case you suppose they care about stopping cash laundering and cybercrime in any significant approach, you may have been had.

However, quickly, if nothing is finished to cease these insurance policies which can be being drafted behind closed doorways, use a Bitcoin mixer and take steps to maintain your Bitcoin transactions nameless, you’ll be accused of performing suspiciously like a “cybercriminal”. Complain concerning the apparent double normal and also you’ll be accused of spreading “disinformation” and turn into a cybercriminal your self.

What ought to significantly concern us now’s how these companies, entities, and “public-private partnerships” plan to fabricate consent for his or her insurance policies. As issues stand proper now, a whole lot of the insurance policies dreamt up by these teams that I’ve simply described would, I hope, be rejected by the overwhelming majority of Individuals. That’s, in fact, except the best disaster have been to come back alongside and abruptly make most Individuals extraordinarily involved about “cybercrime”.

Whereas warnings of a so-called “cyber pandemic” floated round in 2021 as a sequence of high-profile and extremely publicized ransomware assaults occurred, we haven’t heard as a lot since. But, with the final international disaster, COVID-19, formally over in accordance with the U.S. authorities and the WHO, some are elevating the alarm {that a} new international disaster is quickly to make a dramatic look.

Properly, given what I’ve been saying, let’s verify in with the World Financial Discussion board and see what they suppose this subsequent international disaster will likely be. Properly, in January of this yr, Jeremy Jurgens, quantity two on the WEF after Klaus Schwab, asserted {that a} “catastrophic mutating occasion will strike the world in 2 years”. What a assured prediction! So what is that this “catastrophic mutating occasion” that can strike the world earlier than 2025, in accordance with Jurgens? When you guessed “a world catastrophic cyber occasion”, you win.

At a presentation at this yr’s Davos, Jurgens claimed that “93 % of cyber leaders, and 86 % of cyber enterprise leaders, imagine that the geopolitical instability makes a catastrophic cyber occasion” basically inevitable earlier than 2025. Becoming a member of Jurgens in fearmongering over a cyber doomsday was Jurgen Inventory, the pinnacle of INTERPOL, one of the influential members of WEF-PAC. I must also add that the UN, which, as I discussed earlier, is presently making its new cybercrime treaty, has named Interpol as “uniquely positioned to be the implementing associate of quite a lot of the 2030 Sustainable Growth Objectives”, particularly with regards to “disrupting monetary streams” of alleged terrorists, “securing our on-line world”, and “curbing illicit markets”.

Jurgens’ and Inventory’s feedback a few “catastrophic cyber assault” earlier than 2025 spawned hysterical mainstream headlines warning of “cyber apocalypse 2023”. That very same month, Newsweek’s print version featured an ominous hacker on the quilt with the phrases “Hack Assault: How Cybercriminals Outwit All Efforts to Cease Them”. Lots of the consultants quoted within the Hack Assault article work for firms which can be WEF-PAC members, just like the intelligence-linked cybersecurity agency Checkpoint.

In recent times, there was a lot speak about a giant doomsday cyber assault and now it appears high individuals on the WEF and WEF-PAC really feel assured sufficient to place a comparatively quick timeline on it. How unhealthy will this assault be if and when it materializes? Contemplating that the pinnacle of the Division of Homeland Safety has claimed that the “subsequent cyberattack” will kill individuals, it looks like a cyber 9/11 could also be ready within the wings — to be adopted shortly thereafter, in fact, by a cyber Patriot Act or one thing very comparable. If bitcoin is blamed for motivating or funding the cybercriminals deemed chargeable for such a disaster, what is going to occur to public opinion about bitcoin and what sort of laws would possibly we see rammed via Congress?

Given what I’ve described right here, the WEF and its allies, together with a number of U.S. authorities companies, want a pair issues to come back to the forefront of the general public thoughts earlier than they will supply the dystopian “options” that they’ve already on the books. In an effort to fuse banks, regulators, and the nationwide safety state to finish “fragmentation” within the international monetary system, “international monetary instability” should first turn into a serious international concern. With all the things that has been happening for the reason that collapse of Silicon Valley Financial institution, it appears we’re not that far-off from “international monetary instability” changing into a high concern for the common individual.

The opposite factor they should occur is for the common individual to turn into extremely fearful of monetary privateness and on-line privateness, to the purpose that they are going to willingly commerce their privateness for larger safety, or slightly what will likely be offered as larger safety. Bitcoin, privacy-minded crypto, and privacy-preserving applied sciences like encryption should turn into public enemy primary to ensure that the provided resolution to be accepted by the plenty: A very surveilled web and fully surveilled monetary system.

The battle over the management of the cryptocurrency area is a part of the bigger warfare being fought over the way forward for our society, our nation, and the world. Will we sleepwalk right into a world of CBDCs the place intelligence companies, central banks, and industrial banks have fused into the identical Orwellian entity, the place holding “terror-linked” bitcoin or utilizing encryption or mixers makes you a “cybercriminal”? Or will we battle the teams and establishments which have looted American wealth for properly over a century, and demand a return to the Structure and the best to privateness, not simply financially however in all senses? Those who want to power us into the previous situation clearly and unequivocally see Bitcoin and privacy-enhancing expertise as a direct risk to their energy.

There has by no means been a extra necessary time to decide on a aspect. 

This text is featured in Bitcoin Journal’s “The Withdrawal Concern”. Click on right here to subscribe now.

A PDF pamphlet of this text is accessible for obtain.

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